AMC screens potent 1st qtr.

Exhibitor AMC Entertainment yesterday reported strong operating results for its fiscal first quarter ended July 1.

The company credited the gains to three factors: a strong June at the box office, the company’s acquisition of the remaining 50% it didn’t already own of Exhibition Enterprises Partnership (which operates 60 theaters with 444 screens) , and its ongoing cost control program.

3 cents per patron

AMC was able to lower direct operating expenses from its 243 theaters an additional 3 cents per patron during the quarter. “Three cents per patron on 25 million patrons translates into a lot of money,” noted AMC chief operating officer Philip Singleton.

General and administrative expenses, despite the inclusion of the company’s international operations this year, decreased to 5.9% of revenues for the quarter, down from 8.7% last year.

Revenues were up 40.8% to $ 140.6 million from $ 99.9 million in last year’s first quarter. (If the EEP theaters had been included in the prior year’s results, the increase in revenues between the two periods would have been 5.5%.)

Lower general and administrative expense contributed to a 105.6% increase in operating income, to $ 12.3 million from $ 6 million in the year earlier period. (If the EEP theaters had been included in the prior year’s results, the increase in operating income between the two periods would have been 49.6%.)

Operating cash flow rose 68% to $ 22.2 million in the first quarter from $ 13 .2 million last year (or a 20.6% rise including the EEP theaters over the two periods).

Net earnings in the prior fiscal year included a $ 9.9 million — or 61 cents per share — gain from the sale of five theaters, compared to a loss of $ 57,000 on the disposition of assets in the latest quarter.

Net factors

As a result, net earnings were down 67% to $ 3.1 million, or 19 cents per share, from $ 9.4 million, or 57 cents per share in the comparable period last year. (Factoring out the sale of assets, net earnings would have risen 3.6% in the quarter.)

Looking forward, the company said that the combination of its continued cost containment efforts and film product like “Jurassic Park” and “The Firm” makes the second quarter look promising.

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